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Articles and debate on the world’s most glamorous sport

Driver Form Guide Part 1

Lewis Hamilton

Now that Lewis has won a world title some of the immense pressure is now lifted. No matter what happens now, he will always be referred to as a world champion. Had he lost last season’s title final, life would be feeling much tougher right now.

It is clear that Hamilton has enormous talent.

When he performs at his best he is one of the best out there, if not the best. However he still has many flaws. He makes silly errors, and can make life hard for himself. The pressure from outside can often get to him, and affect his driving.

In the future if he can cut all these flaws from his game, then more world titles will surely be won. At the moment though it’s looking like it could be a tough season for Lewis.

The Mclaren currently isn’t a front runner. On a positive note this is his key chance to prove the critics wrong. He can prove to them that his early success wasn’t just about having a quick car.

He can prove that he can drive a car further than it deserves to be, like all the greatest drivers in F1’s history. If he achieves that in 2009, his critics will have to start finally taking note.

If he struggles in a difficult car, it will only confirm their suspicions. This season will tell us plenty about Lewis’s ability, even if he is unable to defend his title. Can he battle hard from the midfield to score points? This is one of the most interesting sub plots of the 2009 season.

 

Heikki Kovalainen

This is without a doubt a make or break year for Heikki. Last season he underperformed. There is no doubt the talent is there, but he has to seriously up his game. He can’t afford to be threatened by who his team mate is. He has to dig deep, and fight harder than ever before in 2009.

He needs to ensure, that he stakes his claim within the team right from the start of the season. He simply has to make a much better start to the season than he did last year. He can’t let all the momentum run Lewis’s way early on.

He needs to show Mclaren that they have two exceptional drivers, not just one. One thing that may swing in Heikki’s favour is that he has had experience of driving a difficult car (with Renault in 2007).

This may give a Heikki a small advantage over Hamilton. If Heikki doesn’t perform in 2009 his Mclaren career will surely be over. He simply has to give Lewis something to think about. Nothing less will be sufficient.

 

Kimi Raikkonen

He is still one of the most naturally talented drivers on the grid. Last season he never got the car to his full liking, and Massa left him behind. On the rare occasions he did like the car, he demonstrated that he was still super fast (Magny-Cours and Spa).

Also you can’t be too shabby if you score 10 fastest laps in one season (that is now a record in F1)

2009 could be a completely different story. The cars in F1 2009 will have a big oversteer tendency. This should suit Kimi’s style right down to the ground. We may finally see that magic return again.

We may see the Kimi that overtook Fisichella for the lead on the last lap of the 2005 Japanese GP.

This is certainly a huge season for him. He can’t afford to let Massa get the better of him again, otherwise his career risks going into freefall. I think Raikkonen will feature heavily this season. He can prove to his critics that he deserves the world champion tag he won in 2007.

He is one of my favourites for the 2009 title.

 

Felipe Massa

He has improved heavily over the last year. He has become a much more complete package, and is now far more mature than he was. To challenge for the 2009 title he will have to improve even further still.

He is surely going be against a much stronger Raikkonen. He also has to adapt to the oversteer tendency these cars will have. He is more of an understeer driver, which was a much bigger feature on last year’s Ferrari. When everything is perfect, Massa is as fast as anyone.

But when something goes wrong the wheels can come off (think Silverstone in the rain). That’s what he has to avoid in 2009. He also needs to be able to win races from further back than the front row.

In 2009 starting from pole position, and scampering away in the race will not always be possible, due to the sheer competitiveness of the grid at present. I can’t help but feel that last season may have been his best chance for the title. Let’s wait and see.

 

Robert Kubica

Kubica is one of the most consistent drivers on the grid. He is also one of F1’s most dedicated drivers. He isn’t in F1 for the fame and the attention. He is very hungry and has only got eyes for that world title.

Nothing will stand in his way. He will do whatever it takes. He has lost a lot of weight over the winter, so that the weight of the KERs system doesn’t disadvantage him too much.

The title is all he wants right now, and he will push everyone around him to the limit to ensure he has a chance. If BMW give him a quick car then he will get himself right into the mix.

He rarely makes mistakes, and is calm under immense pressure. Kubica is going to be one of the main protagonists in this championship.  He has one of my favourites for the title along with Kimi.

Nick Heidfeld

Heidfeld’s search for a 1st race win continues in 2009. He is still one of F1’s most underrated drivers. He is very quiet, and never puts himself into the limelight, but he is a very quick (hence the nickname Quick Nick).

His race pace, race craft and intelligence when it comes to races is first class. He very often makes a nuisance of himself, and sneaks himself a great result (he finished second four times in 2008).

His main issue is his pace over one lap. If he solves this issue in 2009, he could well be one to watch in 2009. If he gets his hands on a quick BMW, then surely that first win is just around the corner.

 

Fernando Alonso

Alonso is the most complete driver on the grid. His race laps are always super-consistent. If a car is two or three-tenths off the pace, he can very easily make up the difference by himself. He is a real fighter!

His car development skills are probably the best of anyone in the pit lane (he is adamant he brought 0.6 seconds to the 2007 Mclaren). If anyone gives Fernando an opportunity to get a race win he will be there. Singapore and Fuji in 2008 are proof of that.

He is rather like Michael Schumacher in that he wins all the races he should win, and wins some of the races he shouldn’t. If he has a quick Renault then he has to be considered a big favourite for the title. His hunger and motivation for F1 seems bigger than ever.

You can be sure he is very keen to get one over Mclaren. If Renault doesn’t give him the car he needs, then don’t expect him to be there in 2010.

 

Nelson Piquet Jnr

Make no mistake about it: Nelson Piquet is extremely lucky he has a seat in F1 in 2009. Last season’s performances were pretty poor apart from a few exceptions. From the flashes of speed he has shown, he clearly has some potential there.

Another important fact to note is that he has always done better in the second season in any series he has driven in.

He needs to be more confident in himself.  The biggest hurdle for him is qualifying. With the grid so tight one or two tenths of a second, could make the difference between making it to the next session and being knocked out. He can’t afford to qualify a long way behind Alonso.

This season is very much make or break for young Nelson. Nobody expects him to give Alonso a hard time. But if he isn’t just behind or beating him on the odd occasion, it’s hard to see him having an F1 future beyond 2009. He could struggle again in 2009.

 

Jarno Trulli

In my eyes Trulli is the best qualifier in F1 today. His constant ability to drag a car to where it doesn’t deserve to be on the grid is absolutely amazing. Over a race distance his pace has always been questioned.

However last season showed that when he has a consistent car, that’s easy on it’s tyres, that he can replicate his one lap pace into race pace too. This season’s Toyota looks mighty quick and consistent.

If the 2009 Toyota is anywhere near the front, expect Trulli to be consistently in the hunt for pole position. And if can start at the front, in a car that he is happy with, there is no reason why he can’t add to his one career race victory.

Can he perform consistently enough race to race to be a championship contender? It’s possible. Trulli has waited a long time, but he could be an outside contender for this season’s title.

 

Timo Glock

In the first half of the season in 2008 it was looking like doom and gloom for Timo Glock. Every weekend Trulli was outqualifying him comfortably making the races difficult for Glock.

But he showed huge grit and determination, worked hard and turned it around by mid-season. In the second half of the season he was mightily impressive.

However beating Trulli in 2009 is still going be very tough. Glock has a good chance though of winning his first race in F1 though. That would be a great result, as after six or seven races in F1 it didn’t look like he would last long.

It should be a fruitful season for Glock. He has a good chance of a long-term future in the sport.

 

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March 24, 2009 - Posted by | Main Features | , , , , , , ,

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